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Flattop Mountain - S side
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Steep is Flat 


Type:  Trad, Mixed, Alpine, 4 pitches, 500', Grade III
Consensus: M5-6 [details]
FA: JD Merritt and Erik Rieger
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 931
Submitted By: erik rieger on Mar 8, 2013

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The approach couloir.


This route climbs four pitches on the unassuming steep upper-wall of Flattop's southeast face. It makes for a good mid-late winter climb, especially in poor or cold weather due to it's generally wind-sheltered and sunny aspect.

To reach the climbing, gain 1,000' or so via easy snow and some moderate rock from the lake until you're high in a narrow couloir. The couloir continues up and right whereas this line breaks left onto a steep wall below a large, obvious chockstone to gain the prominent chimney system slicing the center of the face.

Pitch 1: Climb past the chockstone on the left, then trend up through snowy ledges interspersed with harder moves toward the arete. Surmount the arete with great exposure, using face holds to pull onto an angled ledge (35m, M5).

Pitch 2: Climb straight up from the belay toward a large corner system swinging into a smattering of steep frozen turf and ice. Pull over a steep chockstone and continue up a snowy chimney (30m, M4).

Pitch 3: Continue straight up the right-facing corner and chimney system, pulling two steep sections with good gear (30m, M5/6).

Pitch 4: Continue up the chimney and over a bulge and climb an easy slope to the summit (30m, M4/5).

With good rope management, it would be possible to do the main climbing in three pitches. Expect a half to full day round-trip. We found loose rock and large snow mushrooms.

Descend the straightforward Flattop trail. We did this in a whiteout.


Choose your own adventure to reach the narrow couloir below the center of the headwall on the southeast face.


Standard winter rack.

Photos of Steep is Flat Slideshow Add Photo
You're aiming for this steep wall up and left.
You're aiming for this steep wall up and left.
Pitch 1.
Pitch 1.
Pretty awesome couloir climbing on the approach.
Pretty awesome couloir climbing on the approach.
Here is our line in purple.  A direct-start variat...
BETA PHOTO: Here is our line in purple. A direct-start variat...
Pitch 3, looking up the corner system.
Pitch 3, looking up the corner system.

Comments on Steep is Flat Add Comment
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By Mikearno
Mar 13, 2013

Did this route last year with different variations.... Great winter mountain route.... Almost better that the old route....
By erik rieger
From: Nederland, CO
Mar 14, 2013

Once the first pitch is done, you're tunneled into a large chimney/corner system, and you'd have to try really hard to break from the line. So I'm a bit confused how you could climb the same route "differently." If you've done it, that's cool, I'll change the info. The climbing is steeper and more serious than the old route.